So often when we think of the history of computers and the Internet, we think of a bunch of men pioneering it all. But there have been so many women who have influenced modern computing over the last two centuries, from the first computer programmer to the women who acted as human “computers” at NASA during the peak of the space race. In honor of Women’s History Month, check out the ten women below who’ve helped shape the face of computing.

  • Ada Lovelace


    Ada Lovelace is widely considered to be the first computer programmer and theorized the concept of looping (still used by computers today) back in the mid-1800s.

    Did you know?

    Ada Lovelace was the daughter of Lord Byron and later became the Countess of Lovelace via marriage. She worked closely with Charles Babbage, who was the inventor of the Difference Engine and the Analytical Engine (her analysis of which is what later brought attention to her as the first programmer).

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  • Hedy Lamarr


    Hedy Lamarr created frequency-hopping technology used on the guidance systems for WWII Allied torpedoes, which later became the basis for Wi-Fi.

    Did you know?

    Hedy Lamarr was a Hollywood actress who appeared in dozens of films, including the first motion picture to include a nude scene! She developed the frequency-hopping technology with composer George Antheil, hoping to defeat the jamming technology the Axis powers were using against Allied torpedoes.

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  • Grace Hopper


    Grace Hopper was a computer scientist and U.S. Navy Rear Admiral who designed the first compiler for a computer programming language and popularized the idea of machine-independent programming languages.

    Did you know?

    Yale’s Calhoun College was renamed in honor of Grace in 2017 for her contributions to computer science. Grace also has a U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer named after her (the USS Hopper). She posthumously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.

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  • Katherine Johnson


    Katherine Johnson worked as an aerospace technologist for NASA, calculating trajectories and launch windows for U.S. space missions including Apollo 11 and Apollo 13.

    Did you know?

    After the Apollo 13 mission was aborted, Katherine worked on the team to find a solution for returning the astronauts safely to Earth. John Glenn specifically requested that she personally review digital calculations for his orbit around the Earth to verify that they were correct. If this all sounds familiar, you probably recognize Katherine from the Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures.

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  • Mary Allen Wilkes


    Mary Allen Wilkes was a computer programmer and logic designer known for her work on the LINC computer, regarded as the world’s first personal computer.

    Did you know?

    Mary is well known as the first person to use a personal computer in her home. She was also funny and once said: "We had the quaint notion at the time that software should be completely, absolutely free of bugs. Unfortunately it's a notion that never really quite caught on."

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  • Sister Mary Kenneth Keller


    Sister Mary Kenneth Keller was the first woman to earn a PhD in computer science, an advocate for women’s involvement in computing, and a nun with the Sisters of Charity in Ohio.

    Did you know?

    Sister Mary Kenneth worked in the all-male National Science Foundation workshop in the computer science center at Dartmouth College, where she helped to develop the BASIC computer language. She later founded the computer science department at Clarke College in Iowa, which now has the Keller Computer Center and Information Services and a scholarship named in her honor.

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  • Dr. Erna Schneider Hoover


    Dr. Erna Schneider Hoover revolutionized modern communication with her invention of a computerized telephone switching method that prevented system overloads in call centers. She was also awarded one of the first patents for computer software.

    Did you know?

    Erna studied classical and medieval philosophy and history as an undergrad at Wellesley, then got her PhD in philosophy and foundations of mathematics at Yale. She later joined Bell Labs, whose internal training program was the equivalent of a master's degree in computer science. As a result of her invention, she became the first woman supervisor of a technical department at Bell Labs.

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  • Carol Shaw


    Carol Shaw designed the 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe and unreleased Polo games for Atari in the 1970s and is believed to be the first female video game designer.

    Did you know?

    Carol studied electrical engineering and computer science at UC Berkeley, focusing more on software than hardware classes. In addition to designing games, she rewrote the Atari BASIC manual during her time at Atari to make sure it was technically accurate. Carol also worked for Tandem and later Activision, where she developed the very successful River Raid game (which she credits with allowing her to retire early).

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  • Susan Kare


    Susan Kare is a graphic designer who is responsible for many of the user interface elements for the Apple Macintosh in the 1980s.

    Did you know?

    After her time at Apple, Susan went on to become a designer at NeXT, working with clients like Microsoft and IBM. She designed the card deck for the Windows 3.0 solitaire game, along with a number of other icons and design elements. She later went on to become a founding team member of Glam Media (now Mode Media) in 2003.

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  • Kimberly Bryant


    Technologist Kimberly Bryant is the founder and executive director of Black Girls Code, an organization committed to providing coding education to minority girls.

    Did you know?

    Kimberly was inspired to found Black Girls Code after her daughter expressed an interest in computer programming and Kimberly realized there were very few girls like her daughter in any of the computer courses in the Bay Area. Black Girls Code has a goal of teaching one million black girls to code by 2040 (they’ve already trained over 3,000 in seven chapters).

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  • You!


    Ready to make your own mark on the tech world? Let the women above inspire you to embark on your own path and learn the skills that will help you create the next innovation in computer science! Check out the FREE Ultimate Guide to Coding for Beginners for insight into exactly how to get started with a career in tech.


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